Transport minister Robert Goodwill has said Volkswagen Group could be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter over its rigged diesel emission tests.
Goodwill told the Environmental Audit Committee that a corporate manslaughter charge may be considered if legal advice suggests it could be successful.
When asked if a corporate manslaughter prosecution was an option he said: “That’s probably something that’s above my pay grade to decide – whether a prosecution of that type might be successful. But certainly if it could be proven that a case like that could be brought then certainly that could be open.”
It would be for law enforcement authorities, rather than the Government, to bring forward a corporate manslaughter case against the company, according to a report in The Independent.
It is not clear how many deaths could be linked to increased emissions as a direct result of the scandal. Estimates from Martin Williams at Kings College London have suggested around 5,800 premature deaths in the UK can be linked to diesel emissions from vehicles.
Goodwill said other avenues for legal action against Volkswagen could include a prosecution based on misleading testing authorities, or an investigation through the Competitions and Markets Authority.